Long-standing calls for needed upgrades to the washrooms at the public library's downtown location will be answered next year.
"There are zero truly accessible washrooms," said Prince George Public Library controller Jody Tindill. "And the only washrooms that are meant to be accessible in the original building plan was one women's stall in the entire building."
The existing facilities are too small to create accessible stalls without losing toilets, of which there are four for females, two for men and a couple of urinals.
All washrooms are out of sight of the staff.
"We just don't know if people are coming and going and what they're doing in there. So we have problems with different kinds of folks in the washrooms, as well," Tindill said. "And so when there are problems we don't know."
According to Tindill, one library patron using a scooter was recently stuck in a women's stall.
"Thank God she had a cell phone and was able to call a friend to help," she said.
Staff have created sketches of what they would like to see changed in order to accommodate more - and more accessible - washrooms at the Bob Harkins branch, and that would involve rearranging current office space, said Tindill.
The funding request was approved last year, but it was not on the list of funded projects for 2013, said Tindill.
"So we're just waiting to get word that it would be funded for 2014 because we're running out of time for the Games and the folks that we have coming for that," she said.
According to city staff present at Monday night's committee of the whole meeting, $145,000 worth of investment into the facility's primary health and safety issue is on the 2014 books.
The city's full budget, including library allocations, will be presented to council Nov. 27.
One library project that isn't likely to see forward momentum in next year's budget is a plan to revitalize the entryway.
Library board member Coun. Dave Wilbur raised the issue of the potential project during budget discussions held during Monday night's committee of the whole meeting.
"I don't know of any other public library across this province that has an underground parkade entrance as their main entrance to the library. There's no other word for it but it's ugly," he said. "And we have 2015 coming up - the athletes' lounge is actually going to be in this facility."
Wilbur said he would be interested in finding ways to take advantage of federal infrastructure funds or other grant opportunities to increase the available capital money in 2014 for the project.
Conceptual drawings are complete for the entrance, said library controller Jody Tindill, and the estimated cost of the project would be roughly $2.5 million.
Plans involve a 4,000 square foot addition in the space between the library and new Delta hotel with new elevators, two sets of staircases and covered ampitheatre seating out into the plaza. New meeting and social spaces and a coffee kiosk are included as well as a lower vestibule and new handicap stalls in the parking lot.
According to financial planning manager Kris Dalio, it didn't meet the city's official deadline for applying to the Build Canada Fund. "We are aware of it though and we plan to put it into the budget book that you'll see on Nov. 27 as an unfunded project," he said.
But the city can't rely on a funding program for the entrance work, said Coun. Cameron Stolz.
"Realistically, if we're going to do the entrance to the library it's either going to be something council's going to finance - however - or we're not if it's intended to be strictly for Canada Winter Games time, because I don't think we're going to be able to hit the timing for submission to the Build Canada Fund or something else like that," he said.